makeupaid3Two weeks strong. It doesn’t seem like much compared to my old method of posting multiple times a day, but I guess there’s a thin line between obsession and passion. I didn’t sleep last night (a cuppa tea too late in the afternoon is to blame) so I woke up, had an extra shot in my latte and have been on the move ever since. I know when I crash, I’m going down hard so I don’t want to commit to it yet. Brendan and I made plans earlier this morning to go see a movie tonight (since we both have off Mondays, I suggested we make it a regular date night). He isn’t feeling well which sucks but he’s willing to go…if I can stay awake. So, having cleaned the bathroom and vehemently avoiding the laundry, I am here, completely my weekly goal of blogging to the fabulousness that is the Internet. I’ve been struggling with a lot of intense anxiety lately, usually a result of my OCD. I have dermatillomania, also known as compulsive skin picking as one of my compulsions. It makes my fingers bloody and swollen and generally awful looking. It’s been harder to hide this week because of the extent of the damage. Every finger is raw and red. This got me thinking about self-image. I’ve never been one to love myself…like, ever. I’ve always been too something, too fat, too stout, too this, too that. Or, if I found myself lacking in a particular quality, it wasn’t a slight deficit. It was like a huge, gaping hole. You know, the typical thought distortion of someone with low self esteem. Well, on a drive out with Brendan, a song by Kendrick Lamar called “No Makeup” came on and it stirred up some thoughts.

In the song he’s saying his significant other puts on makeup, though she’s beautiful with or without it. I have always admired the level of skill it takes to apply makeup in basically any capacity. I can do the basics: eyeliner and mascara. I think my eyelids are too fat (see, there I go again) for eye shadow; it just never looks right. Anyway, with makeup being the biggest trend right now for everyone and anyone, you would think finding a tutorial online would be easy. Learning how to contour and highlight should be as simple as opening a new window on the web browser. The thing is, my self-image is distorted to the point that I don’t think even makeup will save me from myself. It might make me more appealing to other people. I am ashamed to admit that that does play a factor here, but I can’t deny that I would still find myself unattractive. Which led me further down the rabbit hole…

There’s a certain point when someone with major depression is recovering that professionals worry. Once they’ve managed to pull themselves from the bottom of the bottom, their energy picks up just slightly, they suddenly can do what they could only imagine doing before: taking their own lives. When you’re severely depressed, you feel it physically. But once you start down recovery, you get some of your energy back. And that newfound life may still be distorted by depression and exerted…unhealthily. Okay, where am I going with all this? Self-image can be like that. Once you think absolutely nothing of yourself: wake up, go through the motions and pretend that you’re some sort of gray, blobbish thing that doesn’t have distinguishing features so that people won’t see you, you’ve hardened yourself against opinions other than your own. When you open that door, believe that you can improve, you can change your perception of yourself, don’t you run the risk of feeling that sleight? Don’t you leave your freshly uncovered wounds open to criticism and others’ opinions, which will, undoubtedly, lead those wounds to reopen and you to retreat even further into your cocoon of self-loathing? Personally, I don’t know which is worse. Subjecting yourself to the psychological torture of needing others’ approval of your appearance, or not giving a single fuck what you look like and still knowing that people don’t approve of you. It’s easy to pretend you don’t care but it’s not always the truth. I see myself in pictures and regret my particular choice of sweatpants that day. Or my constant need to choose function over form, and ending up looking like a bag lady that’s visited every clothing drive she possibly could.

I guess that’s sort of what recovery is, though. Coming to grips with yourself, in whatever manner you may want to, and rising above the experience of others’ in favor of your own. I’ve always envied people that knew exactly who they were for that very reason. Other people’s opinions of them didn’t matter. They liked what they liked and they lived their lives. I, on the other hand, would loathe those people for being so comfortable in their own skin, for never going through the dynamic of change. But really, I was jealous. It wasn’t about their lack of change or the development of their character. It was about the fact that they were comfortable enough to not give a hoot what someone else said. I feel like I can circle back around to bullying right here, but for argument’s sake, I’m going to leave it alone. That’s another bag of worms that I’m pretty sure I’ve unleashed on here a few times before.

The point of this exercise is not to tell you to love yourself (although that should probably be what take away from this whole thing). My point is that maybe society’s standards don’t matter. Maybe we all care way too much or way too little but for no reason at all. I need to stop picking my fingers for my own health; I don’t want to lose fingers or even hands to infection or sepsis. Who gives a damn what other people think? I sure as hell don’t! But maybe that’s my very problem…

 

PSA: If you enjoy makeup, if you know you’re fierce with/without it, you rock! I’m just venting my own personal problems. It’s not with the makeup, it’s my perception of myself…and my fear.

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*TRIGGER WARNING- body image and self-harm discussion*acinq-launches-lightning-network-android-wallet-eclair

This is going to be a regular thing. I have to make it a regular thing or I will lose my fingers…and my sanity. I’ve been picking the skin on my fingers to the point that friends, coworkers, people that didn’t know I picked are suddenly aware of this disgusting compulsion. My fingers are bleeding, catching on fabrics and I’m sure, grossing out people at work. I need to stop but I can’t. Why?

Anxiety has been a big part of this whole process called “recovery”. I think mental illness is a lot like lightning and I’m a firebender (pardon the Avatar: The Last Airbender analogy…it’s an awesome show, though! Haven’t watched it? You should!). Rather than control, possess and master mental illness, I’ve simply learned to redirect its energy. Now, that being said, that redirection is not always positive (haha, electricity pun!). My depression was overcome through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That was overcome by focusing on Borderline Personality Disorder. While that one, is arguably, insurmountable, my manifestation has presented itself once again in OCD and anxiety.

The lack of control I feel (not true to what I actually have) is so extreme that I’ve taken to obsessively cleaning, destroying my fingers, spending money in insane amounts (I’ll explain this one) and generally just hating myself, my journey and who I’ve become (and who I was, frankly. It’s not good either way).

Despite what I know, logically, are accomplishments, I feel nothing positive towards myself. I hate my body: my weight, size, uncooperative hair, general build, my bloody fingers, my voice. I hate that any progress I’ve made has come to a complete halt. I am simply existing in my dirty apartment, my dead-end job and my self-loathing. How do we fix this? I have the tools. I know what I’m supposed to do but struggle on a daily basis to do something about it. And any time I do manage to pull something off, other monsters come and plague my brain, unraveling the progress I made that day. I’m stuck.

I’ve started leaving the house in actual clothes, rather than sweatpants and leggings, in an effort to improve my body image. I wear earrings to work and I accessorize when I go out. While it doesn’t help my fingers, it sometimes does help me…tolerate…myself. Ugh, that word rolls off the tongue like a nasty pill. Are you supposed to tolerate yourself? Or are you supposed to love yourself unconditionally? If you can only tolerate yourself, is that the cap? Is unconditional love now impossible because you’ve set your own limit? I have sex with my clothes on. I count calories and worry about what I put my mouth and how it will affect my hips. I see other people, plus size or not, and am jealous of the effortlessness in which they carry themselves. How they know they’re gorgeous and it doesn’t take the slightest ounce of effort to be that way. They glow with self-confidence while I have shrunk so far into the shadows of self-doubt, I’m not sure I was ever in the light.

Another problem is that I don’t have an outlet for this…jumble of panicked emotion. Any sort of hobby I may have once had has become boring or uninteresting. My days consist of household chores and watching Netflix, or working. That’s all I do. I want to do so much more but I get stuck. The thought of reading a book, or learning how to play the ukulele is thrilling, in theory, but the second there may be some reality to it, I lose interest. Maybe this fear is what’s driving everything. Maybe this deep, unseated fear that I have that things will never be up to expectations is what is causing so much anxiety and intense emotion.

My life will never be what I wanted it to be, so why try to make it something else? Re-frame my future, and things might improve. But I would have to forgive myself for making those egregious mistakes, allow myself to move past them, and embrace the intense dread I feel whenever I start something new. So, you know, no big deal.